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Commission shows support for sheriff
Action taken on eve of Bellendir’s trial
new_deh_bellendir mug.jpg
Sheriff Brian Bellendir

It was a humbled and appreciative Sheriff Brian Bellendir who stood before the Barton County Commission Tuesday morning.

Commissioners had just unanimously approved a letter supporting Bellendir who faces a misdemeanor charge of mistreating a prisoner. His trial is set to begin today in Barton County District Court and is scheduled to run through Friday.

“I have no words to express my gratitude,” he said. “Your support means a whole lot to me.”

Bellendir was charged last October with one count of “mistreatment of a confined person,” Nathan B. Manley. The misdemeanor charge against the sheriff alleges that on Aug. 10, 2017, Manley was detained in handcuffs by Bellendir, who spoke to him in a “vulgar, rude and/or angry manner” and struck him on the side of his head.”

Bellendir declined plea negotiations and requested a jury trial.

“This has been hard on me, hard on my family and hard on my department,” the sheriff said. It has also been difficult for the county as a whole.

“It’s my nature to fight when it is needed,” he said of why he shunned a plea deal. “No matter how this turns out, I will be your sheriff for as long as I can.”

The commission drafted the letter of support for Bellendir to show they stand behind the veteran law enforcement officer. “We’ve worked very well with you,” commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said, adding this has not always been the case with other sheriffs.

Such an action by a governing body supporting an elected official is an extraordinary step, Bellendir said. He was grateful for it.

“This should not be construed as a way to manipulate the judicial system,” Schartz said. Commissioners just want to go on record as backing Bellendir.

“I don’t always agree with the commission and it doesn’t always agree with me,” Bellendir said. But, they have always found common ground.

“The commission deserves as much credit as I do,” he said.

“I consider it an honor work along side Brian,” County Clerk Donna Zimmerman said. 

The letter, read aloud by Schartz, reads:

“The Barton County Commission has had the privilege of working with and supporting Sheriff Brian Bellendir since 2013. During this time period, Sheriff Bellendir has actively promoted, preserved and delivered a feeling of security and safety to the residents and businesses of Barton County.

“As a twice elected official, Sheriff Bellendir, who has been in law enforcement for more than 30 years, has consistently worked closely with the County Commissioners and other County Officials for the betterment of Barton County. He has not only expanded the Sheriff’s Office with the construction of a new detention center and range, he has added personnel and enhanced programs since taking office. Sheriff Bellendir has completed this while not once exceeding his annual budget during his multiple terms.

In conclusion, the Barton County Commission fully supports and appreciates the service of Brian J. Bellendir as the duly elected sheriff, and looks forward to continuing to do so in the future.”

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission  did Tuesday morning:

• Prior to the meeting Tuesday morning, the County Commission met as the Board of Canvassers and canvassed the ballots from last Tuesday’s general election.

• Approved a proclamation recognizing the Ellinwood High School girls cross country team as the 2018 2A state champions.

• Heard an annual report on the Treasurer’s Office from Treasurer Jim Jordan.

• Approved a letter of support for Sheriff Brian Bellendir.

• Appointed registered nurse Melissa Dove as a special deputy coroner at the recommendation of the Stafford County Commission. Under the procedures outlined by Kansas statutes and by Resolution 2006-11, a resolution establishing district coroner procedures, Dr. Edward Jones requests the appointment of special deputy coroners. Special deputies, appointed for one-year calendar terms, do not have the necessary credentials to be a deputy coroner, but generally have a medical background.

This is an unexpired term that ends Dec. 31.